Although you may have a great plan in place for your workplace mentoring program, you’ll still need to sell the idea to the rest of your organization – especially leadership. To do this well, you’ll need to explain the benefits of the mentoring program and create a strategy to market and promote the mentorship program to the rest of the organization. Without a marketing plan for your mentoring program, you may suffer some setbacks such as:
• a lack of participants
• poorly defined expectations and boundaries for the program
• vague goals and outcomes
• few mentoring connections, meaning program goals aren’t being met
• mentors, mentees and the organization are not able to fully recognize the benefits that come with workplace mentoring programs
However, if you’re able to get your organization’s leadership to support the mentoring program, it will be easier to design a strategy to promote the program internally.
Mentorship programs often start as a grassroots effort. Employees looking for ways to further develop their skills and career prospects may naturally begin to reach out to others who are more experienced or knowledgeable. However, a defined workplace mentorship program will support employees in their career development goals and will also support management in their organizational goals.
Benefits to the organization overall include lower turnover, talent attraction and retention, succession planning and equal opportunity. These benefits should be communicated to leaders in your company so they can make the connection between a successful mentoring program and a more productive workplace that’s well positioned to achieve their business goals.
Lower turnover rate. This is one of the key benefits for any mentoring program. Companies invest a lot of money and time into employees through the hiring and onboarding process as well as through skill development and equipment. It ends up being very costly when an employee leaves. Some researchers have estimated it costs nearly a year’s salary, on average, every time an employee needs to be replaced. A mentoring program can result in improved employee engagement and commitment to the organization, meaning less money and time lost through employee turnover.
Talent Attraction and Retention. A mentoring program can be a cost-effective method of rewarding employees or to entice external talent to join the team. Job seekers see companies with mentoring programs as a great place to develop their skills. A mentoring program is a great perk to be able to provide as opposed to more costly offerings.
Succession planning. With the number of Baby Boomers leaving the workforce increasing, organizations will need to have well-developed plans to replace the employees who are retiring. It’s been estimated that 10,000 workers born between 1946 and 1964 are hitting retirement age each day. A workplace mentorship program can help younger employees prepare to move into roles previously held by retiring employees. By connecting a skilled mentor with a willing mentee, a company can ensure that the talent of their retiring worker is transferred on. Any knowledge and wisdom learned during their years with the organization can be shared and kept within the company.
Equal opportunity. Workplace diversity and equal opportunity are more important than ever. A mentorship program can provide the opportunity for minority and marginalized groups to develop skills and capabilities that allow them to be more competitive on the job and when applying for promotions or other internal career opportunities. In some ways, a workplace mentorship program can help create a more level playing field among employees.
Some steps to follow when creating your plan to sell the mentorship program:
1. Define the benefits. By defining how the program will benefit the mentor, mentee and the organization, you’ll be better able to promote the selling-points to each stakeholder. There are distinct benefits for everyone involved. For the mentor, it can be an opportunity to give back to the company or to help a co-worker develop additional career skills. For the mentee, it can be an opportunity to expand their network or to learn more about career opportunities in the organization. For an organization, mentoring programs can help cultivate loyalty in employees and, in turn, lead to less turnover.
2. Target your advocates. Consider who in the workplace will be interested in the program and can help support and promote it. Are there outstanding experienced mentors who could act as champions for the program, encouraging other employees to get involved? Consider any new hires that could benefit from a mentoring relationship. Employees who are new to the organization can learn more from getting to know a mentor than they will from a simple job training. Mentorship gives them a wider view of how the organization operates and their potential for future career growth.
3. Set goals. It’s important to have a frame of reference so you know whether your marketing efforts have been successful. The more specific your goals are, the better off you’ll be when it comes to analyzing the success of your workplace mentorship program. Goals should be set for the overall program, and for the marketing plan specifically. An overall program goal might be the number of mentor-mentee relationships you’d like to create and a marketing plan specific goal could be a higher click-through rate for emails or newsletters.
4. Utilize all your marketing opportunities. Strategically consider all the promotional avenues available to you to market your mentor program: company emails, newsletters, announcements, internal forums, posters, managerial referrals, organization events or celebrations, etc. Make the most of every opportunity to promote your mentoring program and to encourage employees to participate.
5. Stay engaged. Even after the program has a healthy participation rate, you'll want to keep marketing it. However, you may want to adjust the number of communications going out to participants so that they are not overwhelmed. A monthly update sent via email or company newsletter is a good way to keep everyone informed. One of the best promotional tools is success stories, which can provide direct examples of how the program has worked and encourages other employees to get involved.
Whether you’re just starting to develop a workplace mentoring program or if you are looking to boost one that’s been in place for a while, having a good marketing plan is key to selling mentoring to your business. There are many benefits to having a robust mentoring program in any organization, including benefits for the participants and for the company as a whole. Once a strategy has been designed and defined with goals and desired outcomes, promoting a mentoring program to potential participants will become easier.